Christi’s Crew

Tim Hoffa, Jr. of Winamac, Ind., and his wife, Christi, were signed up to complete the 2018 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon together. In August 2017, his wife was diagnosed with Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Due to her treatments and procedures, Christi was unable to do the Indy Mini. However, Tim and Christi completed the 5K instead, just seven months after she received her bone marrow transplant. After completing the 5K, both Tim and Christi were both determined to complete their first Indy Mini together now in 2019 and signed up.

On Christi’s 38th birthday, she lost her brave fight against AML, 15 months after her diagnosis, with Tim and family by her side.

Determined to honor the commitment he made to his wife, Tim signed up for the 2019 Indy Mini and began his training. While some days have been more difficult than others, he remains motivated by the promise he made and knowing the memories of his wife will be with him the entire 13.1 miles.

On May 4, Tim will join the thousands of Indy Mini participants as they push along the course together. Each with their own story which drives them to carry on throughout the race. For Tim, he’s determined to not just start the race, but to cross that finish line with his family, to honor Christi and the wonderful legacy she left behind.

For the Love of Running

Between Valentine’s Day and it being American Heart Month, February is the month most associated with hearts and love. The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is a great way to get moving and start eating well, essential things for good cardiovascular health! For John Love of Carmel, Ind., the #IndyMini is more than just a half marathon; it’s a celebration of heart health and recovery.


In Spring of 2016, John Love went in for his routine heart scan at St. Vincent’s. Even though John ate well and regularly exercised, it was recommended by his doctor due to his family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. While the preliminary results came back great, doctors identified an aneurysm in his ascending aorta after a more thorough review of the scan. After meeting with his cardiologist, it was determined that John needed open heart surgery to repair the aneurysm.


On June 20, 2016, John underwent his surgery. The surgery had John reflecting on how he could further improve his heart health, and set out to partake in as many local 5Ks he could accomplish. What started out as what he calls a “slog” (slow jog), his speed and enjoyment of running improved over the next year.


It was over a dinner in December of 2017 that a good friend of John’s encouraged him to sign up for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Never in his life did he imagine he would complete 13.1 miles in one race, but the past two years taught him that he can achieve what he sets his mind to, so he created his training schedule. Under his doctor’s supervision, he trained for his first half marathon.

John crossed the #IndyMini finish line on May 5, 2018, almost two years after his open heart surgery. The sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. It wasn’t a world record time, but for John, it meant so much more to him than that. Now, he’s training for his second #IndyMini and is ready to cross the finish line on May 4. Why? Because there’s so much to love about this race.


Register now for 2019 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon! Whether it’s your first time or fifteenth, you’ll be filled with excitement and a sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.


Always consult your physician before starting a new exercise regimen. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years.

Team Taylor: 13.1 Miles of Smiles

Maissie, her mother Kamala, and brother Taylor love participating in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon each May. Alongside more than 30,000 other participants, they take to the streets of downtown and cross into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the first Saturday of May. However, their #IndyMini experience is a little different than the traditional runner.


“I haven’t always loved to run. In fact, there was a time I never ran. Running for me really began after I had my third child. My husband was deployed so I decided I was going to train and run my first half marathon. In February of 2015, I stood in the corral waiting for my time to run. As I was standing with thousands of people I heard them start the race with the lead being the wheel chair division. I thought it was so cool, and thought about it for several days. I thought how much my brother Taylor, who was born with cerebral palsy and has been wheel chair bound since birth, and how someone should do this with him. I thought it would be too hard for me being a military spouse and being so far away, until it dawned on me that I could do it because if there’s a will there’s a way. I set out on the mission to get him a chair and have the opportunity to be included.


I found Ainsley’s Angles, set up a fundraiser and raised the money for a race chair for my brother. Taylor and I run the Indy Mini now every year and it’s a tradition we love. Taylor lives in Wabash, Ind., so we occasionally run the very hilly streets in Wabash while we pretend to be running our own race and train for the Indy Mini. Taylor knows when I surprise him at his home that we are going running. When I walk in and ask him what he wants to do he tells me “RUN!” He’s always ready roll.


Our first Mini was magical and they just keep getting better. We are signed up and ready to roll on May 4. He particularly loves the IU cheerleaders at the top of the hill as we enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Taylor looks forward the Indy Mini just as much as I do, Taylor inspires me to keep running and training so I can be the best I can be as we make 13.1 miles of smiles. Since February of 2015, I have completed 20 half marathons with the majority of them being with Ainsley’s Angels. Indy Mini is a memorable run where Taylor feels free and included. The smile on his face during our runs is all the motivation I need. I hope that along the course of the Indy Mini that we inspire someone else and they can also have a 13.1 miles of smiles.”

“Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Up until I was diagnosed I was an avid runner. I would run daily for pure enjoyment. When I was down and isolated with only my thoughts and the cancer, I decided I was going to run the Indy Mini, all because I wanted to do something to prove my strength to nobody but myself.


In May of 2009 I kicked the thyroid cancer to the curb and ran my first official half marathon. Completing that half made me feel as though I could conquer whatever came my way. Running without a thyroid can be challenging at times but having the will power along with the right support as well as nutrition I know I can do it.


I only ran the Indy Mini once until my daughter, who also runs, called to ask if I’d run the Indy Mini with her while she pushes her half-brother with the help of Ainsley’s Angels. This year will be our third year together running the Indy Mini with Ainsley’s Angles and Team Taylor. I’m flattered to able to be a part of Team Taylor. Taylor is a special young man; I truly love running along with him as he giggles the whole 13.1 miles. He lights up the way with his big smile as we roll with the wind. Running alongside my daughter and her half-brother makes all my miles worth it. I may have had cancer but the cancer didn’t have me, I am grateful I was able to overcome my struggles so I could have the opportunity to feel the real meaning of inclusion. I look forward to the Indy Mini every year, I tell everyone how I get to run with Team Taylor, we even try to do theme outfits. Last year was a good one as we ran the streets in all IU gear, this year Team Taylor will be very bright.”

Register now for the 2019 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. All Mini-Marathon and 5K registrations support 500 Festival children’s and educational programming. By participating in Mini with a Meaning, runners and walkers have the ability to make an impact in multiple ways within the Indianapolis community. Learn more how your registration can support organizations like Ainsley’s Angels: 

My #IndyMini Story: Joshua Mast

Joshua Mast
Kokomo, Ind.

Joshua Mast’s #IndyMini journey began in February 2018. Mast had struggled for years to quit smoking and didn’t feel he was in his best physical shape. As a new father, Mast knew he had to make a change so his daughter wouldn’t grow up to believe that behavior was acceptable.


One night, after getting home from his midnight shift at the factory, he stood in his garage, waiting for his daily conference call, which he usually accompanied with a cigarette. However, that night he decided that he was either going to purchase another pack of cigarettes, and continue with the unhealthy habit, or he was going to buy a pair of jogging pants. Mast chose the latter, and headed out into the cold, early morning to purchase the pants from a store. Since he spent money on the pants, he felt committed to getting into shape. He told his fiancé that he was going to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, something that seemed slightly unbelievable at the time. However, Mast turned the skepticism into motivation for his training. After all, he was making these healthy changes so that he would be around to see his daughter grow up and experience life. So on a frigid February morning, Mast headed out for his first run. He was discouraged by the walking breaks he had to do and how out of shape he felt. The road ahead of him felt long, but he was confident that he was going to cross the Indy Mini finish line in May. He changed his diet and fitness routine, going from fast food and little to no physical activity to a diet heavily consisting of greens and daily exercise.


On May 5, 2018, Mast crossed the finish line. He had come far to change his life in a short amount of time and accomplished an incredible goal. Mast signed up for the 2019 Indy Mini following his first race, and encouraged his fiancé to join him. He also hopes to work up to a full marathon by the end of this year. For Mast, it all started with a goal and a pair of jogging pants, but what he achieved has made a monumental impact on his life.


Turn your goals into accomplishments and join Joshua at the 2019 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Register now at

Lisa Curley: My #IndyMini Story


95 pounds. That’s the weight Lisa Curley has taken off in the last 4-5 years. She’s been visiting Indianapolis her whole life, and now she’s going to run it.

Lisa, from Crown Point, Ind., grew up visiting Indy each May to see family and take part in the historic Hoosier tradition of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend.

“Indy is where my family is from,” she said. “I spent many Memorial Day weekends as a child on my grandparents’ back porch listening to the race on the radio.”

Her grandfather was an auditor for the State. During the days of Mario Andretti Sr., he was also a lap counter at the Speedway.

“The stories he could tell and his passion for that race were infectious,” she said.



Before 10-2012
Lisa (right) with her Aunt and Sister in 2012

Lisa Curley First 5K
Lisa (left) running her first 5K

Lisa Curley After
Lisa running a 5K

February 2016
Lisa in February 2016








In 2012, Lisa began to run as part of a weight loss journey. She ran local 5K races and was constantly challenging herself to beat her previous time, finish a tough race, or simply get healthier.

Now 95 pounds lighter in 2017, she’s ready for something she never thought was possible.

“When I decided I was finally ready to try a half marathon, there was no question I was running Indy,” she said. “I want to run across the bricks. I want my first half marathon to be in the place I have so much passion for.”

Lisa begins her training on February 4.

On May 6, 2017, she’ll get to race around the track she used to only hear about.  |  |  @500Festival  |  |  

August in May: An #IndyMini Story

This story took place in the magical month of May, but it became real just this week.




This past year – in May of 2016 – a Mini-Marathon participant by the name of Mark Seitz was about to run his 18th Indy Mini (applause Mark). Seitz picked up his packet at the Mini Expo per usual. Inside, he found a t-shirt, hat and bib; your typical goodies in a Mini package. But he found something not-so-typical, too; a hand-drawn picture with a note from a local elementary student.

August Stella was a 4th grade student at Carey Ridge Elementary school last year. He was one of 25,000 students to take part in the Indianapolis 500 and 500 Festival Education Program in 2016 – the first year students wrote notes to Mini-Marathoners. In his note, he wished a random participant (in this case, Seitz) good luck in the Mini. He also drew a blue race car.

As Seitz blazed the Mini course for yet another year, he took to the straight away at IMS thinking about the race car that August had drawn. Seitz decided to thank August for the motivation by giving him his Mini medal and bib. With the help of his wife, Linda, he did exactly that. Over 25,000 students wrote notes to 35,000 Mini-Marathon participants, so it seemed unlikely that this was anything more than a random act of kindness from August to Mark, and back again.

Linda took the medal, accompanied by a note to “Augie”, and delivered it to Carey Ridge Elementary. Later that night, Mark received a message from Augie’s mother, Leigh. The message read:

Mr. Seitz,

My name is Leigh Stella, and your wife, Linda, delivered your note, bib, and medal to my son Augie today.  

I cannot thank you enough for this kindness. Augie has had a tough school year… it’s been a struggle, but we’re hoping to finish strong. You might imagine how your note and gift has encouraged and excited Augie already.

We are so grateful that you sought Augie out — but I guess we should not be surprised… we were delighted to discover that you are married to one of our favorite people!  Linda cared for our daughter, Kate, in the infant room at Maple Glen.  It is indeed a small world!

Blessings to you sir!  You have made one little boy very proud… he hasn’t taken the medal off yet.

With fondness, The Stella Family



The story is such an awesome example of the impact of the Mini-Marathon, but it didn’t stop there. On Sunday, Nov. 12, Mark and Augie finally met… by accident… at a pizza restaurant.

“What a great day! I got to finally meet Augie!
Auggie and his family happened to walk into the same local pizza restaurant where Linda and I were dining this evening. Linda took the opportunity to introduce me to this cool young man.”

And with that, a now-5th grader and an experienced Mini-Marathoner became instant friends. Students will continue to write notes to Mini-Marathoners as part of the education program in 2017, and we hope to see more stories like this.

We love May here at the 500 Festival, but we’re pretty fond of August now, too.



Read Mark Seitz’ full blog

Learn about the Indy Mini and how you can run with a purpose through Mini With A Meaning


My #IndyMini Story: Gavin Thornberry

The One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon offers something for everyone.  Elite runners and families have made the Mini-Marathon a tradition because of the unique atmosphere and experience the Indy Mini offers. The Mini-Marathon appeals to participants of ALL ages and skill levels. This My #Indymini Story shows how this special running event sparked a passion for running with one of its youngest participants.


While finishing his first year of elementary school, Gavin Thornberry was already setting big goals. Gavin set out to finish the 13.1 course of the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon as one of its youngest participants.


“I completed my first Mini-Marathon when I was six years old,” said Gavin.  “I’m 8 years old and this is my third year running the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.”

As a young athlete, Gavin knows the importance of proper training.  He attributes his successes to a training regimen that he practices multiple times each week. He also appreciates the motivational support that those on the sidelines along the course of the Indy Mini provide.


“To prepare myself I train four days a week in karate,” Gavin said. “When it comes to race day the people cheering on the side of the route keep me motivated to keep my pace.”

Gavin is not only passionate about fitness and running, but he also enjoys inspiring others through his   example to get active. He is looking forward to participating in the 40th running of the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 7, 2016.

“I like running because I get to inspire other kids my age and I like hearing the people cheer me on when I run,” said Gavin.  “If you’ve read this and you see me on the route make sure to say ‘Hi!’.”


My #IndyMini Story: Chris Day

Dennis Waitley wrote, “Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next.” Many adults become downtrodden from stress in their day-to-day lives and forget the importance of taking care of themselves. This My #Indymini Story is one about how one man turned his life around, when he went from overweight to marathon runner.

Almost a decade ago, Chris Day was establishing himself as a financial advisor, balancing work and family life.  He tipped the scales at over 300 pounds, and was overstressed, sedentary, and struggling to walk even short distances. He knew he desperately needed to get healthy for himself and his family.

ChrisDay 3

For Chris, healthy changes were slow and gradual at first.  He changed his diet and added light exercise each day.  But, he knew he needed to do something more to get the drastic changes he so desired.

“I took things one day at a time focusing on diet and exercise and the important things I could control,” Chris said.

As a former track coach, Chris had an existing love for running so he began to add running back into his day-to-day routine. He got hooked on running again and before long he was running for distance. In no time, he was down 60 pounds and completing marathons!

ChrisDay 5ChrisDay 6

Since beginning his journey toward transformation, Chris has run the Boston Marathon as well as numerous One America 500 Festival Mini Marathons. He notes that by-far his best marathon experience was when his wife joined him to show her support in 2012 for the Indy Mini.


“The only thing better than achieving your own goals, is helping others achieve theirs!” Chris said.

To date, Chris is down almost 100 pounds, and he has a newfound enthusiasm and joy for life that he wants to share with others. He is registered to run the Indy Mini this year (his 20th half marathon), so when you see him you can congratulate him on his tremendous fitness achievements and progress.

ChrisDay 4

“This year I will return for the Indy Mini as a happy, healthy, 40-something, husband, father and ambassador for this great race- with the simple goal of inspiring others!”  Chris said.

There is still time to be a part of the 40th running of the 2016 One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Downtown Indianapolis on May 7th! For more information and to sign up today, click here.

My #IndyMini Story: Rueben McCracken

Teachers are responsible for so much more than just academics.  They also represent some of the most influential role models for young students.  This My #IndyMini Story is about a teacher who knows the importance of leading by example and how doing extraordinary things can inspire his students to do the same.

Rueben 1

Reuben McCracken is a teacher who knows the value of reaching his students on multiple levels, and his commitment to his students inside and outside of the classroom is unsurpassed.  Between developing lesson plans, grading, meetings and various other teaching responsibilities, Reuben is often short on time. But, he still makes the time to share his passion for running with his students by coaching his school’s track and field team.

As a track and field coach, Reuben knows that his role is so much more than merely teaching his team to run. He also imparts knowledge that they can relate to other experiences in their lives. Reuben has gained patience, perseverance, humility, and goal setting through running and he has been able to translate these attributes to other aspects of his life as well. He wants his students to benefit in the same ways that he has from running.

“Running the Indy Mini allows my students to see, first-hand how devotion and steadfastness bring about positive characteristics,” said Reuben McCracken.

Running the Mini-Marathon is a goal that Reuben shares with his team and his students, and by seeing his goal to fruition he demonstrates to them that they can also achieve great things if they put their minds to it.  Being a good teacher and coach, Reuben is constantly aware of his potential to inspire his students, and by motivating his students he helps ensure that they will reach their potential.

Rueben 2

Participating in a half-marathon requires commitment and hours of training.  Reuben’s hours of hard work and dedication are evidence of his selflessness and his desire to see his students accomplish amazing things. For Reuben, participating in the Mini Marathon is more about his students than himself.

“Sometimes the smallest achievement, such as completing a race for the first time, ends up being the biggest step in life,” said McCracken. “I want others to experience this first step to changing their life, be it running, pursuing a new career, or altering the path of intentions.”

Reuben has started his training for his 19th half-marathon, the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.  It is not too late for you train to run or walk in this year’s Indy Mini too!  You can register to participate too, just click here!

My #IndyMini Story: Rhonda Smith

Did you know that research has shown that those who volunteer live longer?  Ok, not really…but without volunteers the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon would not be possible!  It takes thousands of volunteers to make one of the nation’s largest half marathons a success and more than 500 of those volunteers come from the title sponsor of the Mini-Marathon.

This #IndyMini story is about the largest group of enthusiastic volunteers from OneAmerica who don’t look for praise for the jobs they do at the Mini-Marathon, but do what needs to be done to help make an impact in the community they love. Their contributions and hard work help make the Mini-Marathon a success each year.

For more than a decade, Randy and Rhonda Smith from OneAmerica have packed up their fifth wheel with tailgating supplies and headed out to the Mini-Marathon to bring together hundreds of volunteers. The volunteers from OneAmerica have forged bonds throughout the years and these bonds have fostered a close knit community.


 “It is very special to see that so many of our volunteers take the opportunity to bring groups of friends and family and volunteer together.  We work with a great group of veteran and new volunteers and feel very blessed to work with each of them.”  -Rhonda Smith

Like many of the thousands of volunteers at the Mini-Marathon, OneAmerica volunteers line the track to pass out Gatorade or water for the participants.  They take pleasure in energizing runners and walkers by giving them the replenishment their bodies need to go the distance. This group also thrives on offering motivation, words of encouragement, and humor for participants.


 “We try to make it fun for the runners and walkers.  Our stations wear anything from crazy hats, mustaches, to superhero capes and masks.” –Rhonda Smith


OneAmerica volunteers have made volunteering at the Mini-Marathon a team building experience that is fun and engaging.  They take pride in their support of the 500 Festival’s largest fundraiser, and each year they strive to make their involvement memorable.

Volunteers at Mini-Marathon have an enormous impact on the outcome of the event, so as you make your way along the 13.1 mile course be sure to show gratitude for them and their hard work!

For more information on volunteering for this year’s 40th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, please click here.